Spike Lee, Aaron Sorkin, Martin Scorsese, and Judd Apatow are among the industry vets who have signed on to teach writing, acting, and filmmaking courses through MasterClass, an emerging online learning platform that’s making it easy for aspiring actors and directors to perfect their craft.
Lee and Apatow are the latest instructors to join MasterClass this year, along with filmmaker and producer Ken Burns and “The Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood. Lee, whose “BlacKkKlansman” was released to rave reviews this summer, teaches a class on filmmaking, diving into the process of writing stories, developing camera angles, and even how to finance a film. Apatow, meantime, leads a comedy class, sharing tips for writing a great stand-up routine, and how to create storylines for comedic television and film productions.
MasterClass joins a number of other sites out there that offer online courses for a nominal fee. LinkedIn recently unveiled their “LinkedIn Learning” platform, which focuses on courses for career advancement, while Udemy has been in the marketplace since 2010, and now offers more than 80,000 course options, ranging from upgrading your technical skills, to courses on personal growth and development. All of the sites allow students to stream video tutorials, download course materials, and take part in interactive exercises, with many also offering the ability to connect with peers and instructors. The hook: an ability for students to learn at their own pace, and on their own time, from the convenience of home.
Unlike traditional continuing education classes, which require in-person attendance and tuition fees, MasterClass courses are available as part of an annual subscription for $180 (for access to all the classes on the site), or for individual purchase at $90 per class. The fee gets you lifetime access to the course videos and materials, so you can reference the lesson plans and tips at any time.
MasterClass courses focus on film and television, cooking, photography, sports, writing, and science. “Scandal” showrunner Shonda Rhimes teaches a course on writing for television, while students can also sign up for a Scorsese-led course on movie-making, which includes 30 video lessons and “office hours,” where the legendary director will respond to select student questions. The site has also added classes more recently from Chris Hadfield (space exploration), and Daniel Negreanu, whose poker class officially launched last month.
MasterClass says it has a “robust pipeline” of new courses and categories set to launch in the next few months, which will bring its catalog to more than 50 classes, and more than a thousand lessons. It’s been a year of tremendous growth on the financial front as well. MasterClass announced last month that it had raised $80 million in Series D funding, led by current investor IVP, with participation from NEA Ventures, Javelin Ventures, and Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, as well as new investors Atomico and Evolution Media (a joint fund from CAA and TPG).
To see the full course offerings and celebrity instructors on MasterClass, visit their site at www.masterclass.com.
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